Second Chance: Life-Enhancing Pets

Second Chance: Life-Enhancing Pets

I just watched the fun animated kid’s movie called “Boss Baby” in which Baby Corp. – You know… the corporation that makes babies and delivers them to families – was deeply concerned about the competition they were seeing from pets. 


Baby Corp. executives were worried that pets were going to put Baby Corp. out of business because they feared more people were choosing pets over kids. Now, we all know this is pure fiction (of course Baby Corp. won’t go out of business), but I wanted to look at why pets are becoming more popular. 

I think it is because pets make people more human.

Why else would you people have pets like me in your lives? 

The reason defies logic, practicality or anything tangible really. When you think about the commitment, the responsibility, the financial costs, etc. of pet parenting it should logically lead many to avoid us altogether. But if you read last week’s Pet Column, you might remember that 68% of households in this country have a dog or cat, amounting to more than 70 million dogs and 74 million cats in U.S. households today.

Bringing us into your lives is really like deciding to bring a child into your world — no rational reason to do so, but those who do experience a level of love and joy not to be imagined under any other circumstances. 

It is this truly profound, but undefinable human-pet bond that drives the research of Lori Palley, the assistant director of veterinary services at Massachusetts General Hospital’s Center for Comparative Medicine.

Palley’s research has involved scanning the brains of mothers while they were looking at images of their own children and their dogs. Surprise: similar areas of the brain were activated — the regions involved in emotion and reward — whether it was the kids or dogs on view. Though obviously not definitive, the work does seem to suggest this thing you have with pets goes deep (and yes, validates the concerns of Baby Corp.).

And it is a healthy thing too.

According to the American Heart Association, pet ownership can lower your risk of cardiovascular disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S.,

“Overall, pet ownership of any kind tended to be independently associated with survival. Dog ownership was strongly associated with decreased mortality, with the likelihood of mortality being 4.05 times greater for dog non-owners than for dog owners (independent of physiological measures or the severity of CVD).”

Additionally we know through studies of animal-assisted therapy programs that pets provide many other positive physical health benefits for people with challenges such as high blood pressure and other heart risks, as well as emotional issues such as depression and anxiety.

Thus, I suggest you all give up trying to figure it out and give in to your internalized desire to adopt a new pet into your lives. If you want your brain’s emotion and reward centers activated and super-charged, come meet me today.

My name is Panda. I am an 18-month-young boy kitty. I am an outgoing, social, affectionate lover of laps and naps. I am a good conversationalist, so I prefer hanging out with dogs more than cats. In fact you should adopt me AND my favorite girl, Ginger! 


Ginger is a sweet one-year-old Rez Dog. She also gets along well with other animals and is calm and gentle. Ginger craves attention from people as I do so we could snuggle together when you are not around to do so.   

Vetting the Vet: Dr. Michelle Dally, DVM, J.D. is Medical Director of Second Chance Humane Society. She also has a private practice, Dally Veterinary Medicine, 333 S. Elizabeth Street, Ridgway, Colorado. Her service area is  San Miguel Mesas, Placerville, Ridgway, Ouray, and Montrose. For more on Dr. Dally, go here.

Michelle & Wallowby

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